Obama receives Nobel Prize

GLORIA J. BROWNE-MARSHALL | 4/12/2011, 4:39 p.m.

Oslo's City Hall holds the ceremonial room where the prize was given. The room has marble floors with walls over 100 feet high covered in murals depicting the history of Norway in bright pastel colors. Trumpeters dressed in traditional velvet outfits heralded the entry of Barack Obama, accompanied by King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his wife. Obama moved among royalty with his traditional athletic gait and calm composure.

Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of the Nobel Prize committee, explained in Norwegian and English the process for selecting a recipient and the reasoning behind Barack Obama's selection. President Obama sat listening intently, legs crossed, wearing a black suit, white shirt and stormy gray tie.

Finally, the introductions ended. Musical selections, both classical and contemporary, came to a close. Michelle Obama sat on the front row, concern etched across her face. Barack Obama approached the podium. At first, his speech was stilted. His hands shook slightly as he spoke of a "just" war, more attainable peace and the recognized sense of self-defense. Then, he became centered and that internationally recognized cadence returned.

It is clear that Obama does not strive to be Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi. His speech provided a further glimpse into the man behind the presidency. He is a traditionalist who refuses to follow a predetermined path unless he believes in it. The ceremony concluded.

A noticeably relieved President Obama and Michelle walked side by side behind the royal entourage surrounded by applause. That evening, the couple stood on the balcony of the Grand Hotel, as have all Nobel Laureates in past years. The crowd of thousands, holding fiery torches and shouting blessings and praise, was the largest in Norway's history. Beautifully dressed and smiling, the Obamas waved to the joyous crowd, albeit from behind bulletproof glass. Then they returned to other tasks and the reality of being the president of the United States.